State funds headed to Alachua County, North Florida 

Florida Capitol Building with sign

Even with a $117 billion annual budget, the Florida Legislature had to pick projects to fund and projects to strike from its appropriations during the recent legislative session. With the state budget passed, Gov. Ron DeSantis can now sign off or eliminate line items in the coming weeks.  

Alachua County leaders petitioned the local legislative delegation in January, asking for support in the areas of water and workers.  

Alachua County’s delegation includes state Reps. Chuck Clemons, R-Newberry—who is also speaker pro tempore of the House—Chuck Brannan, R-Macclenny, and Yvonne Hayes Hinson, D-Gainesville, along with Sens. Jennifer Bradley, R-Fleming Island, and Keith Perry, R-Gainesville.  

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Chuck Clemons
Chuck Clemons

On the water front, the appropriations bill included $1 million for the Newberry Regional Wastewater Facility, a partnership between Newberry, High Springs and Archer. Also in Newberry, the bill approves $1.75 million to support the county’s proposed meat processing facility.  

Another $1 million is also listed for the city of Newberry to build a water tower along SR 26 to improve economic activities in the corridor between Newberry and Gainesville.  

In Gainesville, Hinson and Perry requested funding for the city’s Community Paramedicine Medical Assisted Treatment Program, which the House and Senate each approved for $250,000.  

The Gainesville City Commission heard an update last week from its lobbyist, who said the city can anticipate an extra $300,000 in State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP) funds.  

Alachua County received $2.5 million to connect the Archer Braid Trail to the Celebration Pointe Trail, adding to previous state funding.  

The county was also included in a broader conservation effort. The Legislature allocated $850 million to purchase lands within the Ocala to Osceola Wildlife Corridor. Alachua County has already focused Wild Spaces Public Places funds to buy conservation lands in eastern portion of the county.  

Alachua County joined other counties in getting funds for a school readiness program, totaling $9 million. The Boys and Girls Club of Alachua County also received a line-item slot for just over $100,000.    

High Springs made it onto the bill with just over $1 million headed to the Priest Theatre.  

State Attorney Brian Kramer with the 8th Judicial Circuit asked the Alachua County delegation in January to pay his staff attorneys more to prevent employee turnover. He said state attorneys across Florida will make the same pitch to their representatives.  

Yvonne Hinson
Yvonne Hayes Hinson

According to the Pensacola News-Journal, Florida’s state attorneys got a 5% increase with a pot of additional money that may also apply to salaries for a maximum of a 10% raise. The News-Journal reported that’s less than the requested 15%, but it raises the starting salary to $59,850 for an assistant state attorney and to $60,574 for entry-level assistant public defenders.  

Across the region, other cities and counties are also poised to receive key funding.  

Gilchrist County will get $1.9 million for a combined communications system, $1 million for an Extension Center and Rural Education Center, and $777,420 for the county fire station.  

As a fiscally constrained county, the state will also provide funding for deputy sheriffs and correctional officers’ salary increases. Other local counties, Bradford, Baker, Columbia, Dixie, Levy, Suwannee, Union, were also included in that list.  

Columbia County also got a handful of allocations: $5.7 million for its North Florida Mega Industrial Park Water Plant, $985,000 for its fairgrounds, $950,000 for Fire Station #51 replacement, $980,000 for the sheriff’s crime lab and maintenance facility, and $422,000 for the Lake City Public Safety Building generator and HVAC replacement.  

The Columbia County Bethlehem Community Center also received $475,000.  

The city of Starke received $2 million for its Economic Impact and Recovery Program and $400,000 for its City Walk Project.  

Cedar Key received $1.2 million for the replacement of its aerial truck.  

The Legislature also approved DeSantis’ $7 billion Moving Florida Forward initiative. The initiative expedites 20 transportation projects, including a $479 million improvement of I-75 in Marion County.  

DeSantis retains the ability to veto any item on the list

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More attention to the state park one might be Dudley Farms. They need a work station at the beginning of the park so they can charge a small fee for admin. Itsa beautiful place and should have more support.